Driver, store clerk charged in DUI crash that left SC teen girl - WBTW-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Florence, SC

Driver, store clerk charged in DUI crash that left SC teen girl in ICU

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Matthew Zitello and his 2005 Infiniti in photos from his Facebook page. Matthew Zitello and his 2005 Infiniti in photos from his Facebook page.
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HILTON HEAD, SC -

The Beaufort County Sheriff's Office says alcohol violation charges have been filed in connection with the Christmas Day crash that left a 19-year-old female critically injured and in ICU.

Members of the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office Alcoholic Beverage Control Team (ABC) initiated an investigation to determine the source of the alcohol that was allegedly obtained and consumed by driver Matthew Zitello leading up to the accident, authorities said.

Through the course of interviews, the Sheriff's Office says Zitello was able to purchase a 25 oz. can of beer at the Pantry convenience store on Gumtree Rd. just before 10 p.m. the night of the accident.

Furthermore, investigators learned he was able to purchase the alcohol without providing the clerk his driver's license. 

The clerk who sold Zitello the beer was identified as 23 year old Mitchell Dagan Young, deputies say.

Both Young and the store have since been cited with one count of Sale of Beer/Wine to Person Under 21. Zitello remains in the Detention Center under a $100,000 bond.

Police say 20-year-old Zitello was driving a teen girl named Vianery Garcia, on Dolphin Head Drive near the intersection of Seabrook Drive when he drove his 2005 Infinity through the median, the car went airborne and hit trees in the opposite embankment.

Young was located and arrested Monday and transported to the Beaufort County Detention Center where he will remain awaiting a bond hearing, BCSO spokeswoman Sgt. Robin McIntosh said.

The store's citation is an administrative violation against its beer/wine permit, which will be heard and reviewed by the Department of Revenue. 

In addition, Zitello has been charged with one count of Minor in Possession of Beer/Wine.

He remains in custody at the Beaufort County Detention Center.

------------ PREVIOUS STORY

The South Carolina Highway Patrol is investigating a car accident that left one man in jail and his teen passenger in the hospital. Authorities say the accident occurred Christmas Day shortly after 11pm in Hilton Head Plantation.

Police say 20-year-old Matthew Zitello was driving a teen girl named Vianery Garcia, on Dolphin Head Drive near the intersection of Seabrook Drive when he drove his 2005 Infinity through the median, the car went airborne and hit trees in the opposite embankment.

Both people were reportedly wearing seatbelts, but sustained injuries. Zitello was transported to Hilton Head Hospital with minor injuries, and then arrested and taken to the Beaufort County Detention Center. He is being charged with Felony DUI involving great bodily injury. 

He remains in the Detention Center under a $100,000 bond.

 Authorities say Garcia appeared to have life threatening injuries and was unconscious when she was removed from the vehicle.  She was transported by ambulance to the Hilton Head Airport, where she was then air lifted to Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah, GA.

Sources tell  WSAV, she is in a coma and is on full life support in the ICU.

Friday, the SCHP Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team (MAIT) was on scene reconstructing the accident.

The Beaufort County Alcohol Beverage Control Investigators are conducting a second investigation under South Carolina Section 23-3-160.  In any accident involving injury or death of a person under the age of twenty-one where there is cause to believe that beverage containing alcohol was consumed prior to the accident by the person under twenty-one, the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction shall commerce a detailed investigation to determine the circumstances under which the beverage was obtained.

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